With Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon fighting for the control of your home, things are going fast, real fast. Smart meters, smart lighting, smart heating, smart watering, smart fridges, ... are popping up everywhere, and it will not end there. The biggest challenge of our smart home is managing all different products, each coming with an own smartphone app, which somehow you will need to consolidate in a central controller, preferably connected to a voice assistant.
Already 2 important take-aways when choosing smart home technology:
- Mix and match technology vendors, but don't overdo it. Consider vendors covering multiple smart home functions. On top of that, choose a common technology compatible with a single smart home hub. Which smart home hub to choose?
- Wi-Fi devices are practical but come with their own security concerns, and heavily depend on your Wi-Fi environment. How reliable is your Wi-Fi connection throughout your home, and how often do you tweak settings, or WLAN infrastructure? Consider ZigBee or Z-wave as the standard technology for your smart home.
My favorite store remains amazon.com, as they offer both common and more niche technical solutions, most of the time at very interesting prices. Have a look at their Prime Discounted Monthly Offering (US)
For shopping from the EU, I prefer the amazon.de website, where you can probably choose your interface language as well. Want to save on shipping costs and expedite delivery? Have a look at their Prime Membership (EU).
You can find weird technology combinations in my own home, because all solutions have their own advantages and limitations... Just as an example: I use both Google Nest Hubs and Amazon Alexa, both Chromecast and Amazon Fire Sticks, combine Philips Hue (Zigbee), Lifx and more affordable wifi smart lighting solutions, and have several solutions (physical remotes & voice control) to simplify control and interaction, and allowing some automated routines.
Personally, I went for a Belgian compromise, saving some money, keeping as much openness as possible, choosing a more or less integrated solution, and accepting some limitations and tweaking on the go. The cornerstone of my home automation? Surprisingly: Amazon Alexa, combing:
- a voice assistant that can be tweaked by using skills, choosing what functions to activate
- smart speakers with a lot of streaming services available
- a huge ecosystem of compatible products and advanced APIs that offer quite some possibilities
- a user-friendly controller logic managed by smartphone as well as web interface (groups, scenes, and routines)
- an integrated ZigBee antenna (basic features, but can easily be complemented with another smart home hub)
Of course there are other options, more in-depth comparisons can be found in the menu below.